White and Black –

Black Paper

Working on black paper is a great drawing exercise. Normally darker values are created by building layers of graphite or charcoal, with black paper however, the opposite is true.   It is a great way to look at objects.  Personally, I find it easier to  draw on black.  Squinting while looking at an object causes the lines to blur, and the light and dark values are easier to see. Ignoring the black values, I rough in the light areas. Sometimes I will make a quick sketch capturing shapes, and other times I just add the light areas.

Once I am happy with the light values, I add more detail.  Blending the white into the dark areas creates more and different values.   White on black looks great as a loose sketch also, it has a free-flowing feel.  Maybe one day I will give up my need for detail and leave the sketches relaxed.


12 X 17 on black paper

Thought this drawing would be a great addition to my new business card.

Business Card Really the Final

Front and Back of Business Card

Thank you to Erin for putting this together on illustrator!   Awesome work!


Utenbach Charcoal Horse

“I have learned that what I have not drawn I have not really seen, and that when I start drawing an ordinary thing, I realize how extraordinary it is, sheer miracle.”

-Fredrick Franck

There is such beauty in the things of this world, and when I take the time to slow down and really look at them I am amazed at the intricacies.  I think when I draw, I am actually making more mental connections to the things my brain sees.  Fun!

Utenbach Horse22×30 Charcoal Horse – Utenbach, Germany

There is something freeing about doing a larger scale drawing, especially with charcoal. For me it feels like all the senses are being awakened as life’s worries and tensions begin to melt away.

Recently I came across art paper rolls (over sized paper); I could go even bigger.  I wonder if my family would mind a wall taken over by paper and charcoal.  It could be custom wall paper. Hmm, who knows what the future holds?


Eight Seconds

The eight second ride, from what I am told, is a long eight seconds.  I always find it interesting that some moments in our lives seem to take forever while others speed by so quickly, yet the actual time that has passed might be the same.  Why? Why do the events in our lives that are enjoyable seem to go fast and the more stressful times slow down? There is a way to slow life down, really!  If you want to know more read the following article, The Mental Trick… observe and enjoy life around you.  Mentally record those precious moments in every stage of your child’s life.  Take the time to slow down.


 24 x 19 Graphite Sketch

Observation has become a key element in art for me.  It has forced me to slow down and  pay attention to details that I might not have seen otherwise.  In the drawing above I wanted to incorporate movement with the use of dust or smoke clouds.  I know how to draw a cloud, but how do you make them move?  I had to observe clouds of all types.  I think I have captured some of that movement in this drawing, however I have some other ideas I still want to try.  Hopefully they will appear in future drawings.

Hope you enjoyed this post and thank you for joining me on my art journey.


Note:  This is a photograph of the original.  The scanned image will appear at a later date in the gallery and copies will be available for sale.






Back to the Process

Being out-of-town for a couple of weeks put a halt to the Process, now that I am home I am excited and eager to continue.  As promised I am posting a few photos of the next stages.

I usually start from the left hand side of the my paper.  This helps reduce smudging the drawing as I work.


Moving to the right and down, I continue to add detail and define shapes.  As I work my hand is resting on paper to keep oils from getting on the drawing surface.  I never smudge with my fingers.  Oils from hands and graphite don’t mix well.  When oil is deposited on the paper the area becomes darker and hard to control.  Give it a try, in your sketchbook not on your drawing. 🙂


Before I draw the mane of the horse, I try to lightly shape the body of the horse.  It is just easier this way.  Creating shape for the mane to flow over creates a more natural look.


Continuing on, I will go back and forth to add deeper shadow areas, knockdown highlights, or add new highlights.  Standing back from the drawing or looking at it from a different angle helps me to see which areas look flat and need more depth, and where proportions are not right.  Looking at the drawing in a mirror is also helpful.   I usually leave the background area for last, but I am trying to incorporate it as I draw to help decrease smudging in the drawing.  As you can see, I have not progress too much on the background, actually, not at all. 🙂

I really enjoy this stage of a drawing.  It is really hard to put it down, I just want to finish!  Keep posted, the finished drawing should be up soon.


The Process

A few people have asked me to post the process that I go through when I draw.  I know there are many methods out there, but this is what works for me.

I think the hardest part for me is deciding on the composition as a whole.  How do I want to crop or frame the subject?  What do I want to do with the foreground and background?  Sometimes it is just a matter of, am I brave enough to try execute what I visualize in my mind?  When I finally come up with some ideas I can begin drawing, and this is the fun part.

I start most drawings by blocking out shapes on my paper.  I want to be able to erase the marks later, so I am very careful to make the markings light.  If the graphite is ground too deeply into the tooth of the paper it is hard to remove.  Too much pressure from dark layout sketches can also damage the tooth of the paper.  While blocking out shapes on my paper I often squint, this allows my focus to shift from detail  to shapes and silhouettes. Once I am happy with the collection of what looks like a bunch of shapes and lines I start joining these shapes to create a line drawing of my subject. Next time I will post a photo of this step.

As the shapes are being joined I will add some shadow lines or shadow areas.  These markings become great reference points as I begin to add more detail.  The photo below is a sketch I am currently working on.  The shapes have been joined, most unwanted lines have been removed, and more detail is being added.


19×24″ Barrel Racer

In order to make the photo more visible the lines on this sketch-up have been darkened in Lightroom.  My original is much lighter.

Before I actually start adding life to the sketch I will do a few small practice areas in my sketchbook.  This helps me decide what look I want to create, and work out any problem areas before I start the actual drawing.


From my sketchbook

The practice drawing helped me determine what pencils I did and did not want to use and gave me a chance to try create the angled back leg.




As the piece evolves I will post updates on The Process.  I just have to remember to take photos as I go. 😉  …happy drawing!


The Brawn

New Series

This is the first piece in a new series of drawings.  With Calgary Stampede and Heritage Days fast approaching it seems fitting to focus my attention on western life.  Growing up on a farm, I remember how exciting this time of year always was.  It was thrilling to see baby animals, new plants,  mud (yes, mud was fun), and the end of the school year.  Simple pleasures, it seems, but with these simple pleasures came a sense of newness and starting fresh.


Western Series - 13.5 x 16.5 Graphite on Bristol
Western Series – 13.5 x 16.5 Graphite on Bristol


 14 x 17 Graphite

The Brawn

The brawn, or muscle and strength of the horse, was my focus in this drawing. I wanted to capture the power, fortitude, and splendor that these beautiful animals possess.

“If you have seen nothing but the beauty of their markings and limbs, their true beauty is hidden from you.”  -Al Mutannabbi


Paper Probe

Is there a right or wrong paper to use for a graphite or charcoal sketch?  Lately I have come across charcoal art pieces done on a variety of surfaces (newspaper, paper bag, MDF, canvas…)  Each has a unique look and I am sure, and new set of challenges. Time for me to try!  Thought I would start small – see where it goes.


12×18 Charcoal Sketch

I did this sketch on textured, colored paper.  The challenge was the deep tooth of the paper.

I had to include this quote this week.

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. ”
Pablo Picasso

There was a lot of “dust” this week – the sketch was a great escape!